ESPN, Sky Italia Ink Pact


ESPN’s North American Sports Network will launch on News Corp.’s Sky Italia satellite service tomorrow.

The agreement, terms of which were not disclosed, also call for the rollout of ESPN high-definition syndicated fare on Sky Sport in Italy.

NASN, which presents NFL, NHL, MLB and NCAA football and basketball across Europe, will debut on the 4.46 million-subscriber Sky Italia April 8. The move to the platform’s sports pack at channel 213 expands NASN’s reach to some 13 million households across 40 countries. ESPN acquired NASN for a reported $120 million during December 2006.

The deal also marks ESPN’s largest-ever international HD programming syndication pact, with more than 800 hundred hours annually, constituting a majority of the HD sport programming that will be available on Sky in Italy.

“We are delighted to work with Sky Italia to give Italian fans an enormous array of sport. This agreement allows us to achieve three significant goals: continue NASN’s growth, further enhance the sports offering in the Italian marketplace and deliver high-definition programming,” said Lynne Frank, ESPN senior vice president and managing director of Europe, Middle East, and Africa, in a statement.  “Italy is an important market with a strong fan base for the wide range of sports ESPN delivers and we look forward to serving them further.”

Added Andrea Zappia, vice president, Sky Sports Channels, said: “We are committed to delivering to our viewers the very best in television entertainment, quality and choice; and today’s agreement with ESPN to launch the NASN channel on Sky Italia and bring more quality programs and high -definition coverage to Sky Sport in Italy further underlines this commitment.”